Networking vital to finding a job

Visiting with about 20 recent graduates of Baruch College in Manhattan, Donna Sweidan asked who had participated in events held by the college's alumni club.

“Almost no one had been involved,” said Sweidan, a career counselor and coach from Stamford, Conn. All the graduates from Baruch, the City University of New York's main business school, attended the recent meeting to discuss strategies for job hunting. But they weren't taking into account the maxim, “It's not what you know, it's who you know,” by seeking out other graduates of their alma mater.

It's not impossible to find a job by replying to Internet job postings or other methods, Sweidan said, but it's much easier to mount a search for a new or better job through people with whom you already know.

“I think that's where a lot of people fall short, is that they don't realize how important it is to engage in active networking activities,” she said. She estimates that 75 percent of people find their job through some kind of personal connection.

“My recommendation is always to make sure you're building and nurturing a network before you ever need one,” said Jocelyn Lincoln, an executive with Kelly Services.

“Many of the jobs that are available are never at times posted,” Lincoln said. Some companies even offer referral bonuses to employees who help recruit.

One step that brings together traditional face-to-face networking with more modern methods is inviting new contacts to join an online business-related network like LinkedIn. Debby Afraimi, a recruiting consultant, said she uses the site as a follow-up to each interview she has with a potential client. “I always send my follow-up e-mail as an invitation to join my network on LinkedIn.”